Transcript - Find Out Anything From Anyone Anytime

Author: James O'Pyle and Maryann Karnich
Title: Find Out Anything From Anyone Anytime
Plot: Useful tactics for interrogators to get to the truth
Note: These tactics require a captive audience

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Full Transcript
Hey, welcome back!

Today I’ll be reviewing Find Out Anything from Anyone Anytime: Secrets of calculated questioning from a veteran interrogator by James Pyle and Maryann Karinch

Unfortunately the book authors are not professional writers. And that’s okay, but it changes how I will rate the book. I am a researcher not a book snob. The author is a professional interrogator, not a writer and he admits that in the introduction.

We certainly don’t want a world full of book snobs. We should welcome professionals who want to share their wisdom and knowledge even if they haven’t been authoring books for decades.

However, that said I only gave his book two stars because the content is bland and repetitive. And if you mine this book for all it’s worth you could create a single expression that would sum the book up in its entirety.

There are two things that make this book worth buying: if you take the time to read it, it will get you thinking about how you currently ask questions. And it drives home our need to make improvements in that area.

I would definitely avoid the audiobook version. Buy a hardcopy, treat it like reference material and use your highlighter and pen to take notes and circle important ideas. Do not expect to be entertained by the delivery.

James O. Pyle is a veteran interrogator and intelligence-training instructor. He has worked for the Pentagon and the Defense Language Institute. 

Maryann Karinch is a body language expert and author.
She is also known for her athletic endeavors including competition for the first Eco-Challenge and regional awards in body building and gymnastics.

They not only authored this book on how to get answers with questions, they also wrote a book on how to avoid answering questions, it's called:

Control the Conversation: How to Charm, Deflect and Defend Your Position Through Any Line of Questioning

Now I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I tend to dislike the sort of person who makes radar guns for police and radar detectors for drivers. 

And so the misleading title of this book is consistent with selling one book on asking questions and another one on avoiding them. Meaning I believe the title was crafted to be broad and attract the most readers possible, but the content of the book is very specific and that poses a problem.

The best audience for this material is government officials, police, lawyers, investigators, and anyone who writes or negotiates complex sales contracts. That is a very specific, very narrow audience. And when you read the book, you feel the weight of the fact that the title overpromises and (the book) under-delivers.

It would have been more honest to have crafted a title that more clearly attracted the right target audience. Meaning if you’re a guy or a girl hoping to understand how another guy or girl feels about you, this is entirely the wrong book. If you are trying to get family or a friend to divulge a secret, these techniques are unlikely to work. The best conditions for this advise is situations where the person being interviewed can’t leave and has some compelling reason to answer your questions.

They could have broadened the scope of the audience by advertising it to encompass dad’s who want to discover the intention of boys toward their daughters. That would have been honest and the delivery focus and style wouldn’t be off-puting for those of us who expected to learn how to get answers from people without first locking them in the room.

If you can bear the bland delivery of the material it opens your eyes to the power of questions in communication.

I could explain how to fix this book, but I fear only the authors would care. It’s unfair to burden all my listeners with details only a couple people would appreciate. But if I’m wrong. leave me a comment and I’ll make another podcast for that.

I bought the book years ago because I was trying to distinguish between girls who were interested in and those who weren’t.

However, that is the absolute wrong audience for that! So I was lured in by the broad title and angered by the content.

It seems like a good idea to appeal to a broad audience with your titles, but if you’ve heard my podcast on bad fiction, you know it’s a huge mistake. Don’t reel people in with bait like fish unless you intend to deliver on the claims you make.

For the sake of this book review, I’m going to help these authors by clarifying the message based on my knowledge of the subject matter.

Police don’t refer to interrogations as interrogations. They’ll invite you into a "conference room" to have a "conversation," and they’ll give you a soda and make you feel comfortable. They know your walls will go up if you walk through a door that has interrogation written on it. And your clue by the way that you might be in trouble should have been obvious when you were invited to the station.

If you feel threatened, you will certainly ask for your lawyer and shut down.
And so the authors essentially communicate the idea that you build rapport with the person showing interest in them personally. Meaning you lead them to the idea that you care about them by acting like their friend so you can skewer and then destroy them. Now that’s my own interpretation of course. The authors never said that. Rather they indicated they got the best deals they could for the people they quote "helped" close quote.

While we’re on this topic I would suggest you avoid talking to police without a lawyer present. And let your lawyer do all the talking. Always keep your answers short and don’t let your mouth run. Stick to the answer to the question and offer nothing more.

Being in the same room as a police officer, regardless of whether this is at the police station or your house, is an indication that you are a suspect. And this is an interrogation cloaked as a conversation.

Police can lie to you, but they expect you to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So don’t believe what you see on TV.

Now if you are questioning someone who wants to get away, your questions will just make them more anxious to leave, which is why these techniques are unique to situations where you have a captive audience.

I acknowledge the author could use the skills he's learned from interrogation to navigate everyday social situations — asking questions in a non-threatening way. But we don’t all have the luxury of that kind of practice.

The author’s basic advice and probably best advice is to ask questions like a two-year-old inquiring about Santa Clause. If you consider that banter and emulate it whenever you want information, you will go far in life.

Now while reading this book I had a personal revelation. I asked myself the question: why do people tend to shut down when I ask them questions? I realized that I often want a very specific piece of information and people often answer my questions like I’m completely uneducated. Instead of drinking in their answers and pretending like I’m learning volumes from them, I often want just one specific detail. And I get frustrated while I wait it. And I imagine that frustration is written all over my face.

Now if I followed this author's advice and acted like a two-year-old asking about Santa I would ask questions and get excited about the answers and the person I'm talking to would be excited to talk to me. And by changing that one dynamic I might learn new things. Because they would open and I would benefit from their excitement at sharing details that I'm excited to learn.

I just need to get over my belief that it’s dishonest to pretend to be enlightened by things I already know. Because what I communicate by being unteachable is that the other person has little to offer me and that’s just not true. Because people are more than the sum of what they know. They are an authority on themselves and I know nothing about them. And I want to get to know them. So if I can get them talking and keep them talking I can come to know who they are. As long as I keep sight of that goal, then it doesn't matter if they're answering questions I know the answers to. If I act like they have nothing to teach me, they shut down. And I don’t get to learn who they are and part of who they are is the topics that excite them.

And so I confess I'm guilty of a social blunder that I need to fix. 

It would seem that my desire to make friends and be honest are at odds. Out of a desire to make friends I often ask questions, but out of a desire to be honest, I ask difficult ones. And so in the space of time it took to formulate the question and then deliver it, I lost sight of my actual goal. My goal was to socialize, but somewhere along the way I became more concerned about the answer than anything else. That's a mistake!

Now ironically, if I were the author listening to this book review I’d give it two stars because most of the content of this review is a departure from the focus of the book. And that’s because I was lured into buying a book that was meant for police officers, detectives, lawyers, and so while I read the book I attempted to adapt it to my needs which I have explained on this podcast. I care about the social aspects of asking questions. I don’t care about determining the location for a bomb planted by a terrorist because even if I found the sucker I wouldn’t know how to disarm it. I don’t have the luxury of locking people in rooms and forcing them to answer my questions.

Now if you do, you will like this book. It explains things like leading questions, questions you ask intending to influence or change the other person’s opinions or behaviors. We discover that some people are people pleasers and so their answers are rarely about their actual feelings. They're always attempting to please the interrogator.

This book offers more than I described in this podcast so it is worth purchasing provided you fit into the description for the best audience. 

I gave it two stars. I fully expect it lives up to that rating.

As a podcaster I'm always intrigued by the podcasts that attract the most listeners, I expected people to flock to the analysis of the Gita, but maybe they assume I reviewed it because I’m Hindu pushing my religion. Not because I’m a researcher whose trying to expedite your journey through the world of knowledge. Perhaps when I post my reviews on the other religious books that will become more obvious. But in the end my podcast entitled Start with Why by Simon Sinek and the Aesop’s fables podcasts are presently the most popular. So if you want suggestions for a good listen, you have two now.

And that's all folks! As always have a brilliant week. Thank you for listening. And y'all come back now, ya here?



Podcasts mentioned in this episode


Listen to "Start With Why by Simon Sinek [11 Mins]" on Spreaker.


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